Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Budget rift steals spotlight

Winchester voters to join debate

 By Abby Spegman Sentinel Staff 

WINCHESTER — After months of back and forth between the school board and the budget committee, voters will get to weigh in at Thursday’s deliberative session.
Saying the school portion of the tax rate is unacceptably high, the budget committee set its proposed school budget for 2012-13 at $9,197,777.
But that’s too low to keep the school open, according to school officials. The school board recommends a budget of $11,510,850, up 3.8 percent from the current year’s $11,089,128.
While it’s the budget committee’s recommendation that usually goes before voters, the school board said last week its proposal will be up for discussion Thursday.
The deliberative session is where voters can make amendments to articles, including the budget, before March’s election.
Last month, Superintendent Kenneth R. Dassau sent a letter to Brian D. Moser, budget committee chairman, stating the school board would go to court to stop the $9.2 million budget from going through.
In a letter to Dassau last week, the district’s attorney, Matthew H. Upton of Portsmouth, wrote the budget committee never held a public hearing on its budget, making its recommendation invalid to pass along to voters.
The cuts it proposed would also raise class sizes above state regulations and would not allow the district to meet special education requirements, since the committee also cut special education teaching aides, Upton wrote.
Moser said last week he disagrees with the board’s reasoning and expects to present voters with the $9.2 million recommendation at the deliberative session.
The budget is just one article on the school district warrant.
The school board is asking voters to do away with the budget committee’s role in formulating the school district’s budget. (A similar article on the town’s warrant would do the same with regards to the town budget.)
But another article, submitted by petition, would expand the budget committee’s role, giving it the power to set the default budget that goes into effect if voters reject the budget plan in March.
There is also a one-year contract with the Winchester Support Staff Association that would cost an additional $17,500 next year.
The only other petition article asks if the district should create a committee to look at withdrawing students from Keene High School, and appropriate $5,000 “to hire an economist to study the financial impact” of reopening Thayer High School.
That school closed in 2005, and the district now pays tuition for its students to attend Keene High.
At a public hearing on the article last week, school board Chairwoman Colleen M. Duquette said Winchester would not be able to offer the programs, sports and clubs that Keene does, a sentiment echoed by a handful of speakers.
Others said tuition will only continue to increase and it would be better to bring the students home.

The deliberative session for the Winchester School District is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Winchester School.
Abby Spegman can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or


Can we see? said...

Maybe someone can bring a video camera to the meeting tomorrow night and record the proceedings and then send it to the Informer to put on this blog for everyone to see what went on and to be able to make an informed decision when it comes time to casting our votes in March? What do you think, will someone with a recorder step up for all of us?

Anonymous said...

What about showing up in person to vote, we know the informer wouldn't mind displaying a video but we really needs bodies at the school to counter the school supporters. You can bet they will muster-up every one and his mother that can vote to be their, A video would be to late to change anything.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we need everyone in town to show up and let these greedy sobs know that we won't stand by and watch them destroy our town with more high taxes under the guise of educating our children; but unfortunately that won't happen and they know it. Most voters will rely on their friends and neighbors to go and none of them will show and we'll be in the same boat we are always in, that too few care to fight while the rest sit home and watch sitcoms.

Anonymous said...

Please urge everyone to attend Deliberative tomorrow night at 7:00.

Last year we had 97 voters who determined what went to ballot. Historically what ever is decided at deliberative is usually what is approved by the ballot.

Also, the School board typically motions to approve all of this Warrant articles at once. Not letting the people vote on each individually. We all need to get involved.

If you are planning on going bring someone with you. There will be people there to sign up anyone that needs to register to vote.

The tide is turning said...

The taxpayers of Winchester have had enough,and even the selectmen who backed the lower school budget amount, have got to understand that its time to hold a hard line on waste and things like sloppy work ethics. Everyone, budget committee and the selectmen did a great job last night at the school deliberative.We have to vote to keep the budget committee or this step in the right direction will all get turned around next year.

Anonymous said...

Be thankful we have Brian Moser, Bob Davis, and Elisha Jackson on the budget committee. They did a wonderful job last night and for all you voters out there, please remember this when it comes time to go to the polls. We need these people to remain on the budget committee despite the noise coming out of town hall, without them we'd be looking for real estate agents today.

Big Win said...

There are 3 school board members that probably still don't understand that the tide has turned, its these people we should vote out not the budget committee that did the job we sent them to do for the first time in years. Good job Rick and Elisha, it was a joy to watch.

Bob Davis said...

I would like to remind "Big Win" whose proposals Rick and Elisha used at last night's deliberative session.They are are the same cuts in the SAU administrators budget that I presented at the school budget committee meetings after a couple of us met and consulted with an expert in the accounting field who had looked over the proposed budget and suggested we make these cuts in these areas. At the time I made these proposals to the committee, Rick did not agree with me ( see minutes posted ) and made it known he thought these cuts went too deep. Although I know Rick and Elisha spent much time on their presentation and probably did a much better job than I could have done, I'd like to make it known that these cuts were the work of every member of the board, except Kevan Whippie and Ken Gardner of course, that we have a great chairman and several other members that worked diligently on your behalf and that this was the hard work of all of us; not just Rick. This was a concerted effort, with most of us feeling we should cut even deeper; but it was hard to get everyone to agree and though not deep enough, you people saw that it passed. The one issue that bothers me the most about last night, was Rick's comments in the newspaper, that I felt were directed at me, "we had some bad actors on the budget committee" he said; yet he took the proposed cuts I suggested to the committee and last night used them in his proposal to the public. Guess I'm not that bad of an actor after all am I Rick?

Anonymous said...

The one good thing that came out of last night's voting, was that the school board now knows that they aren't bullet proof. For years, we have had to stand by and take whatever they dished up to us. Think again. Thanks to all members of the budget committee that worked to reduce the tax burden. The controversy at least brought light to how the school operates, and has people asking, why? Keep the budget committee and can the school board.

Chicken S--- said...

I see on the BOS meeting of Feb 1st that the selectmen are reprimanding the budget committee for going over budget, take the taxpayer paid for coffee from HWY and it would pay for the overage. Plus, just think of the work that would get done with no free coffee. Sherm can you say Chicken S---?

Anonymous said...

I find it hilarious that Sherm Tedford publicly showed his arse writing a letter to Moser for going over budget by $300.00 and they just HAD to put this in the public minutes for everyone to see. I especially like the 78.% baloney too. Hey Sherm, how come we don't see this for ALL departments, especially Highway and Land Use ? Where's the letter to the School Board ? Whatsa matter cat got your tongue you hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

You guys are missing the whole point.
A-the budget committee is supposed to be leading by example and should be the last board to go over budget no mater how little. and why are they paying someone to take minutes?
B-yes the budget committee worked very hard to lower all budgets and cut our taxes but the chairman missed the boat on many problems and now the state says their school budget does not go on the ballot.
C-Most this board did a great job but because of the antics of basically 1 member and his personal agenda our entire board is in danger of being sent away. A responsible Chairman would not have let these things happen. Now we all pay the price.

Our school is broken and not doing its job, cost go up and scores stay the same or go down. It needs to be dismantled and rebuilt. Their are tons of people needing jobs right now if the ones at the school who don't want to do their job for a reasonable wage then Buh Bye.

Anonymous said...

Most of the town's dept. budgets have to much fat. look at land use where Gus Ruth came up with money to pay for flying Margaret Sharra butt around town to take pictures of citizen's back yard to make sure they are in compliance. Yet the selectmen want to attack Brian Moser. Next year we must double the budget committee’s budget just in case Brian wants to fly some committee around town.

Anonymous said...

Who says we missed the whole point, you @ 6:35 ? I think you've missed the point and are still flapping your gums trying to blame everything that went on on Brian and Bob. It's you that can't see the forest through the trees, my friend. You're so blinded by your tunnel vision views that you just don't get it and are blaming others who just worked to lower your taxes. I call that pretty foolish, wouldn't you? And where's your proof that the State said this or that? If I remember from the meeting last night, Brain called them on this and no proof was ever provided, yet you come here and spout that nonsense. You can take your A-B-C's and go rain on someone else's parade. We know what happened and why and what we are going to do about it.

Anonymous said...

OK then why isn't the BC's 9.1 M budget on the ballot?

Stop Paying the Secretaries said...

Regarding the Budget Committee's budget -
Who wrote the checks? Sharon?

The Board of Selectman- does their secretary work for free? NO!
The ZBA-does their secretary work for free? NO!
The Planning Board- does their secretary work for free? NO!
The R.E.D. committee- does their secretary work for free? NO!

We need to educate the accountant and if you want to fire the secretary start with the other boards! Especially the one that costs us over $40,000 per year (part time)...and multiple lawsuits!

hallelujah said...

Looks like the taxpayers of Winchester have finely had enough. Thanks you, Brian, Bob, and the whole budget committee, along with the Winchester Informer. If i was a Dept. head I would do everything I could to serve the people that pay you, or you could be GONE. Its real easy when you think about it, just run your business like you would your household.

waiting for the other shoe to drop said...

Feb 10 7:53pm.

Go ask the School Board and Ken Dassau how they think they can get away with what they are trying to pull. Because of them the whole matter has become a farce. First they stall when it's their time to go before the budget committee by holding a meeting of their own on the same night; yet Kevan Whippie was there and could have presented their budget, why not? Then they refuse to go when the meeting is rescheduled and instead tell the board they'll be there when they get good and ready. who do they think they are? Then after the Budget Committee cuts their budget without them at the next public meeting, they cry foul and threaten lawsuits and to close the school. Then after the Budget Committee seeks help from an outside source, a professional with an economics degree familiar with the system and comes up with a 9.1 million dollar budget, Ken Dassau comes up with this crock of bull that they did not get it in in time; yet it was submitted before the School Board held it's illegal meeting on the 30th and then tried to say the Budget Committee was late, blah blah blah. Guess we'll have to all wait and see when the dust settles who still has a job and what numbers will be on the ballot. Jim Tatro could be in a world of doo-doo too for putting the wrong figures on the ballot and making more mistakes like he did last year. Too many chiefs in this town that think they can get away with anything and that the public isn't wise enough to follow the little ball under the shells.

Anonymous said...

Did any of you go to deliberative? You are giving credit to Brian and Bob. The two Budget Committee members that spoke nothing about the $10.8m proposed budget. The two that didnt stay for the complete session. Mr. Davis says it was his cuts....why did he not speak about them and take credit for them in front of the voters. The Budget presented was not a Budget Committee budget it was specifically stated in the beginning of Deliberative and when the amendment was made. Brian and Bob have put lots of time in but this "changing of the tide" at delibertive was not their doing. Two voters presented a budget....and the voters approved the amendment. Thats who should be getting credit.....VOTERS. Now the VOTERS need to come out in March.

Anonymous said...

The two "voters" you speak of were Rick Horton and Elisha Jackson, both members of the Budget Committee, not just two citizens who came forward. The budget they proposed was one that took figures from the 9.1 million dollar budget they all worked on. That they increased it over the objections of other members and got it passed was great. But give credit where it is due to the Budget Committee, without them pushing for fairness the voters would have been stuck with what the school wanted, Rick.

Anonymous said...

Frankly people who gives a damn who came up with the idea. The budget needed to be cut! Thank your lucky stars that they had enough foresight to find someone with some knowledge on school finance. Now, it's up to you to stop bitching and educate the children. Suggestions were made to cut staff and the SAU. We don't have to follow those suggestions and I am not certain if our board is smart enough to do the RIGHT THING! Yes, I said that. This is not a popularity contest it is about financing an adequate education for our children. If it takes cutting back for a year then so be it! Oh, looking at numbers if Dassau works for us part-time and then part-time as the SPED director seems to me that we are paying the bulk of his salary. Who's brilliant idea was that anyway? Obviously the person can not add. I hope that we are educating our students better than this. Does integrity ring a bell?